Having once been a key part of Arrow, the flashbacks to Oliver Queen’s past have declined in quality since season 2. Many fans cite the flashbacks as a huge problem on the show, and the showrunners are well aware of that. In an interview with TVLine, they offered explanations for the dip, which should be reversed next season.
Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim gave his thoughts on the difference between early flashbacks and the more recent ones:
“Part of the appeal of the flashbacks is seeing what a big difference it is between Oliver Queen in the present day and Oliver Queen five years ago. The problem is that we are telling a five-year story in the flashbacks of Oliver becoming the guy you met in the pilot. So the deeper you get into the flashbacks, the closer he becomes to being that guy, and, thus, you lose that element of the flashbacks that was so interesting, which is how different he was…. That’s something we have struggled with this year.”
Despite their struggles, the flashbacks aren’t going anywhere. Fellow EP Wendy Mericle added, “The way we write the story is still very much married to that back story, and trying to change it up at this point would feel weird.”
That doesn’t mean that Arrow will continue along the same path. Oliver’s journey to becoming the vigilante in the pilot ends in season 5. That means the show already has something to focus on for the flashbacks. “We know what we’re working up to,” Mericle explained. “The season will be easier to break because we have an endpoint, and we work backwards from there.”
Mericle even hinted on where the flashbacks might go in season 5. She said, “It’s a very good possibility that we’ll finally find out how Oliver got that Bratva tattoo and how he learned to speak Russian.”
Hopefully the flashbacks can get back to their early standard. With season 5 taking past Oliver Queen into a much darker place, and making present day Green Arrow much lighter, there’s potential there. That would be a great contrast to work with in the new season, and that could help the show return to the heights of the first two years.